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A Freedom of Information request has revealed the details and destination of £10.5 million Viable & Vibrant Places funding in Wrexham.

Back in January it was announced that Wrexham had competitively won a Welsh Government grant aimed at helping to create jobs, tackle poverty, increase housing supply and improve community facilities.

The FOI requested information on consultations regarding the funding as well as detailing where the money is to be spent.

The detail is given in this spreadsheet, showing the spending over three years.

  • £40,000 will be spent on a project to ‘redefine the town centre’, with details saying: “A master plan to provide a clear vision for the future development of the town centre in terms of its retail, residential and housing offer.”
  • £772,400 will be spent to: “relocate and redevelop the existing Oriel Gallery to an alternative location within Wrexham Town Centre and to extend the overall arts and culture offer in Wrexham through the development of a cultural centre.” Wrexham.com understands the People’s Market is one possible venue for this, with North Wales Police taking an area in the existing Oriel.
  • £1,930,000 of spending on “conversion of empty residential and commercial properties within the Town Centre and immediate surrounding area to bring into use to provide new residential accommodation.”
  • £4,900,00 to be spent on “development of 2 sites to create the provision of older persons accommodation within the town centre.” One of these is the development on Grosvenor Road.
  • £715,000 to cover creation of “a social lettings agency, support private sector landlords to improve the quality of their properties through the provision of property improvement loans, and support property owners to become more professional landlords.” We have previously covered this here.
  • £1,700,000 to extend “the existing programme of group repairs of homes, environmental improvements and installation of energy efficient measures.”
  • £300,000 to “Invest in properties within the South West Wrexham HRA specifically to make them more energy efficient through the delivery of improvements such as new heating systems and cavity and wall installation.”
  • £227,000 Of “Capital Investment to expand an existing childcare facility through social enterprise in Caia Park and to open a new childcare facility within the town centre to increase childcare facilities within the town centre.”

Overall the documents show £23.6m of spending, with £13,000,000 of ‘other funding’, believed to be matched style funding on the above areas on top of the existing spending listed above.

The major tranche of the £13m is a figure of a further £9.6m associated with the £4.9m listed above for the development of two town centre sites for the provision of older person accommodation.

Internal costs for project management, architecture and quantity surveying are estimated to be £7,026 for the project.

One part of the query revolved around asking why there was no open meeting for local stakeholders to input, with the Council replying: “The development of the Wrexham VVP programme has been led by the Council (as have all other successful bids from other local authorities in Wales) on behalf of a local partnership which comprises the public, private and voluntary sector.

“The mechanism for engaging with local businesses and interested parties during the development of the bids (two stage process undertaken between May 2013 and November 2013) was contact with a range of existing strategic partnerships/ organisations which represent the broad interests of the public, private and voluntary sector.”

The list of those consulted is given as :

  • Coleg Cambria;
  • Wrexham Town Centre Forum;
  • Wrexham DM Partnership;
  • Wrexham Local Service Board;
  • CF Central Cluster Board;
  • Private Residential Landlords
  • AVOW

As regular attendees of the Town Centre Forum (TCF) Wrexham.com readers may wonder why the consultation was not mentioned in any of our reports. Mentions of the bid and lately success of the bid have taken place, however we cannot recall anything that we would call a ‘consultation’ taking place in meetings and will be enquiring if sub-groups have been taking place, again unknown as their work does not appear to have been fed back to the TCF that we have seen.

Other formal and informal consultations that are not listed above are mentioned elsewhere in the FOI response minutes, for example with meetings with the Caia Park Partnership and a local head teacher.

The minutes released also hint at where possible spending may take place with Bridge Street referenced as a possible place for affordable housing. 320 new affordable units have been mentioned previously, and the FOI refers to 60 ‘new’ units and others being refurbished.

There is an ongoing debate on the Wrexham.com Forums regarding the Vibrant and Viable Places funding – you can read and take part by clicking here…